Thinking Too Much About 2020 Heritage

This type of post has become somewhat of a tradition for me…  I did it for both 2018 and 2019 Heritage, and I do it again now.

What “it” is would be me slicing and dicing scans of 2020 Heritage and comparing them in different ways to the originals… and in a couple of places, I’ll also be comparing them to 2002 Upper Deck Vintage, which did their own little riff on 1971 Topps/O-Pee-Chee.

So here we have Heritage, 1971 and Vintage.  As you can see, UD covered their copyright asses a little by putting the team and player name at the bottom, as well as making some other tweaks.

One thing I’ve noticed since I started doing this “series” is that, for some reason, the space devoted to photos in Heritage is just a little bit smaller than it is on the original, and many of the design elements are also smaller.  Here’s an example where I took “strips” of a Heritage image and laid them over an original 1971 card, adjusting so that the bottom edge of the white “frame” on both cards is in alignment.

You can see that the white frame – and as a result the photo inside the white frame – is a bit smaller on the Heritage card which shows a head shot of Marcus Stroman than for the 1971 action shot of Ray Sadecki.  Interestingly enough, notice that the text is also a bit closer to the white frame, and the two lines of text are a little closer to each other than on the original.  This is something I’ve noticed three years running – the overall portion of the card which is taken up by photo and design is juuuuuuuust a little bit smaller on Heritage than on the originals.  While we don’t have anywhere near as much miscuts as we did back in the day, one would think that having 21st century technology and lasers and such would allow card makers to push the envelope more than they could back in the day, but it does seem like Topps allows for a slightly wider “margin” around the edge of the card.  It seems counter intuitive given that we have borderless cards with no apparent problems, but there you are.

One other thing I noticed, which is exaggerated by my scanner washing colors out a bit – the cyan of the original is more “cyan-y” than the Heritage.

The white frame is a little bit narrower on Heritage as well;  in the image below, I lined up the left edges of the white frame and then used a green line to extend the right-hand edge of the Heritage white frame.  This also gives a decent illustration of how there’s a little more black side-to-side in Heritage than the original.

Just for fun, I did a similar “cross-section” image, only this time I adjusted the two designs so that the word “METS” is closely aligned as could be:

This gives a better image of how the text takes up less space on Heritage than on the original…  So to hit those points again, both the photo and design portions of the Heritage card take up less space than on the originals.  It’s not much less, but it is less.

One final analysis of the heading of all three:

Although the team font is very close, you can see that the font used by Upper Deck was a closer match than Heritage (which is a little bit “chunkier”).  Note also that the font used for the name/position is not quite the same either… Compare the R’s, S’s and C’s above.  For example the horizontal part of the lower-case “r” is stubbier in Heritage than on the original.  It’s close enough for government work, but not quite the same.

Moving on to a quick comparison of the backs…

Like the fronts, the backs of the Heritage card were printed a little smaller than the original, and it’s only partly because of the larger amount of small print on the side.  Meanwhile the UD Vintage cards used the 1971 backs but with the OPC yellow, which is sooooo, sooooo much easier to read.  I know it goes against everything Topps is shooting for, but I do wish they’d used the 1971 O-Pee-Chee backs when making this Heritage set.

More analysis of the backs, aligning by the bottom of the stat box…

…and just presenting the Heritage back overlaying the original back so that you can see how he boxes are smaller and squished up by the legal stuff on the right.

Let’s do some quickie comparison of other cards, starting with the AL ERA Leaders, both card #67…It’s interesting how “AMERICAN LEAGUE” is italicized on the 2020 card.  Also, you can see how the player name and team text is shorter and often narrower in Heritage.  Those of you who have middle-aged eyes, take comfort… Topps isn’t taking it easy on us.

“Rookie Stars” cards for the White Sox;  both of these are card #13 and both feature a catcher and pitcher.  Aside from the beating-a-dead-horse differences I’d already mentioned, these match up nicely.

Maybe Heritage has always done this and I hadn’t noticed, but I both love and hate the fact that the rookie stars are of the same position as the original card.  The hate part comes from the idea that Topps might shoehorn a marginal prospect into this subset because, for example, a shortstop prospect is needed to maintain continuity but the team in question doesn’t have a good shortstop prospect, so they use some fringe-y guy who may never appear on cardboard again.

Two ALCS cards, but in 1971 you could get away with saying “A.L. PLAYOFFS”.  Again, you can see how the cyan is deeper in 1971 than in Heritage.  Also, “WORLD SERIES” is italicized, I wonder if it has anything to do with the phrase being trademarked.

If this were me designing these Heritage cards, I would’ve softened the focus on the 2019 Astros photo to make it look more like the original

World Series Game #4…  You know the drill by now… Smaller picture, more black, wordier at the bottom with a narrower font.

Two horizontal Angels, both card #360.  I’m mildly annoyed that with all the space that a horizontal card provides, they still went with Andrelton Simmons being a “ss” instead of a “shortstop”

One last card which I’m featuring because it’s probably my favorite card out of 2002 UD Vintage… Gotta love Cal standing in the on-deck circle with the Warehouse in the background.

Just like the last two years, I’d like to thank you for reading through my long ramblings about Heritage. Maybe I think too much for my own good… Some people say so. Other people say “No, no… The fact is you don’t think as much as you could.”


8 thoughts on “Thinking Too Much About 2020 Heritage

  1. I never noticed that the Heritage photo frames were smaller than the original. That might explain why something about the fronts of 2020 Heritage struck me as JUST a bit off.

  2. Same here. I love this set and love reading about comparisons to this set. So far I’ve gotten one hobby box of 2020 Heritage and hope to get another.

  3. Great work!

    One thing I noticed about the 2020 Heritage cards that is really disappointing is the unnatural look of the lighting on players faces. I think it is probably due to some Photoshop work which attempts to lighten faces where there are shadows. The same issue existed in previous years, but it stands out so much more with the black backgrounds on the 2020s. In addition, some of the portrait type shots are atrocious due to the type of lens the photographer used. Many of the faces and bodies are disproportionate and skewed. For example, check card #14, Matt Beatty. Looks like this photo was taken with a phone camera that was too close. #30 Justin Turner is also bad. #47 JA Happ is another.

    • I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that there are a fair number of images where the player was photographed in a studio and then photoshopped in front of a ballpark background. I don’t yet have any of the cards you’d specifically mentioned, but I’ll keep en eye out for them.

      I do remember that the 2019 Heritage Yan Gomes card was odd-looking; aside from the photoshopped uniform, Gomes looked 2 dimensional, like they took a photo of a cardboard cutout

  4. Topps 2020 heritage is similar to 1971, how ever differences on back where 1971 dark green, 2020 dark mint green easier to read, also copy write is on left side compared to right side. The UD cards look good, I like the yellow backs. The font on front of cards are little closer & bolder.

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